Weekly output: patent trolls, Apple Music (x3), robots, digital fluency

I had more to show for myself than usual on this holiday-shortened week, and I can thank Apple and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for much of that.

6/30/2015: Why The Tech Industry Hates Patent Trolls, and You Should Too, Yahoo Tech

I’d written and filed this column two weeks earlier, then shelved it so I could turn around a post on LastPass’s security breach. I’m glad we could finally get this thing out, but I fear that not many people read it on the day that Apple Music launched.

WTOP on Apple Music6/30/2015: Apple Music, the newest player in a crowded streaming field, WTOP

Washington’s news station interviewed me about my first impressions of Apple’s new music service. I emphasized how limited Apple Music’s device support is compared to that of Pandora or Spotify–even factoring in Apple’s upcoming, unprecedented shipment of an Android app for the service.

7/1/2015: CE Week Report: Are Robots Limping Forward or Finding Their Stride?, Economy

João-Pierre S. Ruth wrote up last week’s CE Week panel on robots and was kind enough to give me the last word in the story.

7/1/2015: Will Apple Music Kill Your Data Plan?, Yahoo Tech

I had thought that this would be an easy story to write, but then I realized that Apple had not bothered to document the bit rates used by Apple Music’s streaming–which are significantly higher than Pandora’s bit rate, though not as high as some coverage would have you think. I also had to batter my way through some math, an experience that reminded me how many decades it’s been since my last math class.

7/2/2015: We Do Need Digital Fluency, But We Don’t All Need To Code, Yahoo Tech

I’d written this reaction to the previous Friday’s event with McAuliffe at one of Capital One’s Tysons Corner offices on Monday, but my editors elected it to hold it for a slower time in the week. That made sense to me.

7/5/2015: Some restrictions apply to Apple Music song matches, USA Today

I wrote and filed a different Q&A column on Thursday, then decided that Apple’s undocumented imposition of DRM on matched copies of your own music was a timelier topic. That delayed the start of my long weekend until around noon Friday, but in the bargain I have a completed column in the can that we can run whenever I get around to taking a vacation.

Weekly output: Who has your back, robots, CE Week, Washington Apple Pi, travel WiFi blacklists

Beyond a trip to New York for CE Week, the last seven days also brought me back to 1150 15th Street NW for a Washington Post alumni reunion Thursday night. That will be the last such gathering at that address, because the paper is moving to rented space in a much better-looking building on K Street.

6/23/2015: Tech Firms Trust Our Government Even Less Than You Do, Yahoo Tech

I though the fifth release of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who Has Your Back?” report on how tech companies stand up to government requests for data about their customers was a newsworthy moment. I did not realize until starting to write this piece how much the tech industry has moved since just 2013, as I realized when I re-read some of my first Disruptive Competition Project posts.

CE Week panel description6/24/2015: The March of the Robots, CE Week

I enjoyed talking about the progress and continued problems of the consumer robotics business–from floor-cleaning robots and toys for kids to driverless cars and drones–at this CE Week panel with Engadget editor Devindra Hardawar, Spin Master designer Andres Garza, Ozobot CEO Nader Hamda, and WowWee CTO Davin Sufer. As the screengrab shows, I was checking my phone pretty often to consult my notes and look for any Twitter feedback; I don’t know how annoying that looked from the seats.

6/24/2015: CE Week TV: Rob Pegoraro, CE Week

Later that afternoon, I did a quick interview about our robotics discussion with Judie Stanford.

6/27/2015: Rob Pegoraro on personal technology, Washington Apple Pi

I returned to this Apple user group for the first time since 2013 and talked about the increasing amount of convergent evolution between iOS and Android and how that doesn’t seem to have cooled down the usual mobile-OS bigotry. Most of the questions I got from the audience afterward were not about those issues; instead, people wanted to know about their choices in broadband Internet access and what they could do to get away from traditional pay-TV subscriptions.

6/28/2015: Wi-Fi wrongly blocking sites? Blame humans, USA Today

I enjoyed the irony of using my column to unpack a problem that a longtime competitor (re/Code’s outstanding Walt Mossberg) had complained about on Twitter.

Weekly output: LastPass, wireless bridges

At the start of this week, I had different topics in mind for each of these two columns, and then things happened. I also made a quick run up to New York Thursday for a few tech events, then wrapped up the visit with a pilgrimage to the top of One World Trade Center. I’ll repeat the D.C.-NYC trip tomorrow but will stick around longer–CE Week runs Tuesday through Thursday.

6/16/2015: My Password-Manager Service Got Hacked. Things Could Be Much Worse., Yahoo Tech

I had filed a different column by the time my editor and I separately decided: Hey, this news about a password-manager service’s security breach is column-worthy. After this piece went up, LastPass updated its original blog post with a clearer explanation that’s worth reading.

USA Today wireless-bridge post6/21/2015: Wonky Wi-Fi on one device? Take it to the bridge, USA Today

In this case, I hadn’t filed anything–I couldn’t, because I was waiting for an answer to a reasonably simple technical query from a company that had already exhibited… let’s say, a slow PR metabolism. Fortunately, a reader had e-mailed a question that I could answer without needing any spokespeople to chime in first. It didn’t hurt that the headline came to mind almost instantly.

Weekly output: Apple Music (x2), Fios battery-backup beep

In addition to the items below, I probably tweeted out an article’s worth of copy at the Techonomy Policy conference in D.C. on Tuesday. After that, this week’s other highlights were two only-in-D.C. events: the NOAA Fish Fry, an annual event that sees the Commerce Department’s courtyard turned into an open-air seafood buffet, and a reception at the National Archives hosted by nine different wine/beer/booze-industry lobbies. The catch is that both happened Wednesday night, a first-world problem that made the whole evening that much more like something out of Christopher Buckley’s brilliant novel “Thank You For Smoking.”

Yahoo Tech Apple Music post6/9/2015: Apple Music: The Song Sort of Remains the Same, Yahoo Tech

I covered Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference much as any of you could have: by watching the live video of the keynote at Apple’s site. I was sure the comments on this post would instantly degenerate into the usual Apple-versus-Android flame war, but that did not happen, and I feel like I did something wrong.

6/9/2015: Apple Music, WTOP

I spoke about Apple’s music news with WTOP’s anchors the morning my story ran. It was flattering to hear myself described as the news station’s “favorite geek.”

6/14/2015: How to stop Verizon Fios ‘battery beep’, USA Today

Most of my story research doesn’t require going into my home’s basement, but this item about how Verizon delivers phone service over its Fios fiber-optic broadband did. The column also offers some advice about a service-finding site, Go2Broadband, run by the cable industry.

Weekly output: Android app permissions, Google Photos and lifetime service, Rovi’s vanishing TV guide

After last week’s travel and travel-induced delays, I enjoyed going no further for work than Capitol Hill.

Yahoo Tech Android M permissions post6/1/2015: Six Things to Know About Android’s Apple-esque App Permissions, Yahoo Tech

I could have written this post right after the Google I/O session that provided me with these details, but that Friday-afternoon talk didn’t wrap up until after 6 p.m. Eastern–and the delay allowed me to inspect the new permissions interface in a developer-prevue build of Android M on a loaner Nexus 9 tablet I picked up at I/O.

6/2/2015: Will Google Really Store All Your Photos Forever?, Yahoo Tech

Instead of trying to do a full review of this service based on only a day or two of playing around with it, I opted to use my Yahoo Tech column to unpack the long-term deal Google is offering with its new Photos service. One thing I didn’t mention in the column: I have near-zero hope of using any online service to back up all of my pictures, because I have about 20 years’ worth that exist only as negatives or prints, and I have nowhere near enough time to scan all of those.

6/7/2015: How software, service shifts disconnect smart TVs, USA Today

Not for the first time, my 2009 HDTV served as review hardware for a story. This time around, it involved the unexpected and unexplained shutdown of Rovi’s onscreen TV guide on some older Sony sets.

Weekly output: Chromecast tips, GM and the DMCA, Google I/O, online security, landline number portability via VoIP

I had a fun and productive stay in San Francisco for Google I/O, then started a day of travel home that became a day and a half. And it was basically my fault for being a greedy avgeek. Instead of booking a nonstop back to National or Dulles, I opted to connect through Houston so I could get a belated introduction to the Boeing 787 on the first leg–and, I figured, have the extra capacity of a widebody plane on a domestic route lead to my upgrade clearing.

That left me with a tight connection before the last flight to National, and I’d thought that my big risk was getting into IAH too late for that departure. Instead, the latest in a series of storms pounded the Houston area, forced planes to divert hundreds of miles away, and led too many pilots to time-out. My brittle connection finally crumbled when United acknowledged reality and cancelled the DCA flight at around 10:30, I grabbed a reasonably cheap hotel room nearby, and I got home after 4 this afternoon. Oh, and my upgrade didn’t clear on the 787. Not my smartest travel hacking ever.

5/25/2015: How to watch your own videos on Chromecast, USA Today

My editor decided to run this column on Monday of the Memorial Day weekend instead of Sunday. That, in turn, meant I could devote Sunday to holiday pursuits instead of taking time to market the piece on social media.

5/26/2015: General Motors: Don’t Touch Your Car’s Software, Yahoo Tech

I’d planned on writing about this year’s round of requests for exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention clause later this year, but there was enough interest in a proposal to legalize tinkering with the embedded software on cars that I had to go ahead with the column. Short version of the ensuing reader feedback: You all trust GM about as far as you can throw it.

Yahoo Tech 2015 Google-keynote post5/28/2015: Cut From Google I/O: What Didn’t Make the Stage, Yahoo Tech

After the opening keynote to Google’s I/O conference wrapped up, I wrote this recap of the things that Google executives didn’t mention in that two-plus-hour presentation. I hope somebody does the same for the keynote at Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference.

2/29/2015: Google’s Security News: Malware’s Down, and You’re Heeding More of Its Warnings, Yahoo Tech

My editor at Yahoo Tech suggested I check out this half-hour presentation by Google’s Stephan Somogyi about its security efforts, and I’m glad I took his advice. He shared some fascinating details about how security warnings fare when read by distracted humans who are apparently feeling lucky all the time.

5/31/2015: Want to move your home number? Take it to the Web, USA Today

The question that led to this column about using Internet-calling services to move a landline number to another area came from a reader of my May 11 piece about the demise of Sprint’s WiMax wireless broadband–see, I do read my e-mail! It also gave me an overdue incentive to start testing some home-phone VoIP hardware I’ve had sitting around for a while.

Weekly output: NSA surveillance, Tech Night Owl

It’s a short list of stories this week, because USA Today elected to run this weekend’s column on Monday instead of today (they figure it will get more readers then than today, which seems fair enough to me). Next week will be busier: I’ll be in San Francisco from Wednesday through Saturday for Google’s I/O conference.

Yahoo Tech NSA-surveillance post5/19/2015: The NSA’s Bulk Surveillance is Nearing its Expiration Date, Yahoo Tech

This column was a hairball to write–between recapping two years’ worth of breaking news about the National Security Agency’s bulk surveillance and then trying to summarize the key differences between possible reforms of that, I had a draft balloon to about 1.5 times my usual word count.

5/23/2015: May 23, 2015 — Josh Centers and Rob Pegoraro, Tech Night Owl

My conversation with Gene Steinberg about Comcast’s customer-service initiatives, NSA reform, EMV credit-card security and more was repeatedly interrupted by my coughing fits. I feel bad about the extra editing work I inflicted on my host, and I wish I knew what could escalate a slight scratchiness in my throat so badly.